I’ve been thinking about this topic for nearly a year and as I’m writing, today is Giving Day; a philanthropic day in the season of giving where we are encouraged to give to a cause and give generously. Rarely do I write about a specific local business because I want this column to reflect generalized business principles that apply across industries. However, I sometimes witness companies doing something so right and so important that I make an exception to highlight business principles in action.
A couple of years back I stumbled across a statistic that floored me. Fully eighty-six percent of all philanthropic giving worldwide is made by the owners of small businesses. Not large corporations but your local family and closely held businesses. Let’s be sure, there are as many ways to give to charities or causes as you possibly can dream of. Some business owners stroke a check and get a tax break for their generosity. That’s nice and necessary for the long-term sustainability of that recipient organization. But then there is another level. I call it abundance.
In my way of thinking, abundance shows up as a donation coupled with time and energy. Check out these two local examples.
First is my friend Jack Acheson, Jr., the chef and owner of The Round Bistro on South New Hope Road. The Round opened in August 2012 and for the entire existence of this place he has promoted a vast array of local non-profits and other entities that serve this local community. I’ve witnessed blood drives, mammogram screenings, pet adoptions and more. Jack recently shared 10% of gross daily receipts with a Susan B. Comen breast cancer event, Gaston County’s Battered Women’s Shelter and the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation in separate functions.
When asked why here’s what I got. “It’s my motto that when you take care of me, I’m going to take care of you. Whether it’s my employees or guests, if there is something important they support then I’ll support it too.” And he added, “when you give locally, a greater percentage of the funds go directly to the work of that organization and into the hands of the local people who need it instead of the overhead expenses of some corporate fundraising organizations. There’s comfort in knowing it’s helping locally.” That shouldn’t be too much of a head scratcher for the rest of us.
Then there are Selina and Dennis Lee, owners of W.D. Lee and Company, an industrial machine shop in west Gastonia. It’s not the sort of place you’d ever go. In the background and quietly for years they have supported the Webb Street School students. The Webb Street School is Gaston County’s school for kids with developmental disabilities. Selina and Dennis spend their free time and money searching stores for tuxedos and gowns so the students can dress appropriately for their high school prom. The Lees take care of stylists for the girls and patent leather shoes for the guys. Now think about that. These kids get a day and an event they surely would never have otherwise enjoyed and they remember it forever.
There are all sorts of causes and organizations. In Jack’s words, “there are so many different color ribbons, which one will you choose? As humans, we complicate things too much. Human nature is to be greedy, to give is easy. It comes back three-fold.” No amount of my wordsmithing could have stated that better.
Find something that matters to you, make it really personal. You can’t possibly give to every organization so narrow the field to just a few and give to those with time and energy as well as money.
Go ahead. Take Action today and be abundant during this season of giving. Then go Run a Lap! Business is Fun!
Tony Marder is a Gastonia resident and President of ASM Ventures Corporation. He is a certified business coach and a specialist in preparing strategic business plans. You can reach him for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org